PLATTSBURGH - As Michael Carpenter looked at a sea of motorcycles in the parking lot of North End Harley Davidson, he couldn't help but be overcome with emotion.
"It's awesome. Just awesome," said Michael.
It wasn't a huge sale for the dealership. It wasn't even a casual get-together for biking enthusiasts. It was a ride with a purpose - to honor Michael's brother, the late Richard L. "Dick" Carpenter of Cadyville.
Dick was at hunting camp downstate when he suffered a massive coronary attack last December, claiming his life at the age of 58.
"Ryan [Dick's son] and I were with him when he passed away," said Michael. "It was hard."
However, out of their grief, Dick's family and friends joined to put together a benefit ride in his honor last Sunday. The event took months of planning, with the help of friends Larry G. and Tammy J. Duquette, Cadyville, but was well worth the effort, said Michael.
"We've been working since February right on through 'til now," said Michael.
"He did a lot for this community and he meant a lot to people," said Larry. "He did so much for everybody around here and this is just one way we can repay it."
Dick's wife, Linda C. Carpenter, wiped away tears as she looked at the crowd of more than a couple hundred bikers. The 85-mile ride - which included driving by the Clinton Correctional Facility where Dick worked for 26 years - meant a lot to Linda, especially since she knew money raised would help the heart unit at CVPH Medical Center.
"He would be so proud and honored to know how many people loved him," said Linda. "And, what better way to pay it back than to have the money go locally to [the heart unit]."
Dick's daughter, Ashley Arel, said her father was smiling down on everyone as the weekend's earlier cloudy, rainy skies gave way to a bright, sunny day.